The “Tigue’s” Silent Sunday – From the Bird’s Nest
It was the summer, 2014. My phone alerted me to a text message. I saw it was from UL head coach Tony Robichaux. The first three words in the message were "Glory to God."
I didn't need to read any farther. I knew what he was talking about. After over a decade of fighting, the coaches in the Sun Belt had finally agreed with something Robe and associate head coach Anthony Babineaux had been saying for years.
There's just something wrong with college baseball on Easter Sunday.
I've had the conversation more than once with Tony Robichaux over the years. Some of those conversations have been in public; most have not. And, while I won't get into specifics of private conversations, I can tell you it's a subject that's been important enough to Tony to where he's taken that battle to coach's meetings for more than a decade.
And he heard all of the arguments. Over and over again.
It messes with your pitching rotation. Baseball is supposed to be played on the weekend. Our student-athletes miss an extra day of classes. We don't need to be arranging our schedules because of a religious holiday.
Yet Robe kept bringing it up.
Over the years, coaching staffs changed. The makeup of the league changed. FIU, FAU, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky went away. Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Texas State and UT Arlington came aboard.
And, still, the debate continued. Until Tony spoke.
"You realize we're talking about honoring a man who died for us, right."
And, that pretty much ended the debate.
The vote wasn't unanimous, but it wasn't close, either.
The decision was about more than religion. Next to Christmas, there isn't more of a family holiday than Easter. It doesn't matter whether the families are about chocolate bunnies or family worship, egg hunts or choir cantadas. It's being together as a family.
It's a sacrifice Robe, Bab and everyone connected with the squad, including the student-athletes, have been forced to make.
"Our players, especially the out of town guys, don't get much family time during the season. We'll play early on Saturday and that means our guys will have Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday to be with their families. Some of the out of town guys have their folks coming in. The local kids can have a family day."
And, so can the coaching staff.
Robe will have his family over. Justin, Leigh Ann and their daughter will be there So will Ashley, Lon and four of their five children (the fifth, Olivia, remains in the hospital after a premature birth...she's doing great.) "We'll miss Austin and Sarah (his fiancee) because of spring training, but everyone else will be there."
But you can bet the day will start with Robe and Colleen, Bab and Joni (and Brooklyn and Sydney) at Mass. And, for most of the squad as well at various denominations.
Because Easter "is to honor the man who died for us, right?"
So, thanks Robe. For fighting for your players who have been taught this is about more than baseball. For fighting for your family.
And for mine.